Hitters Who Could Pitch

Over the weekend I discovered Alec Zumwalt’s name. Zumwalt’s career is unspectacular and mostly unworthy of examination. The only interesting thing about his toils came as a last resort to change his outlook. Drafted as an outfielder, the Braves converted Zumwalt to the mound. His ability to throw hard translates to the mound to some extent, as he was able to pitch in the low-90s. His command lacked polish and, and he never reached the majors in any capacity – although the Devil Rays did take him in a Rule 5 draft.

Players already in the Major Leagues are unlikely to transition from the field to the mound (or vice-versa) as most of those transformations seem to occur in the minors. I wanted to throw the topic out as a thought experiment. Which players already established in the majors would make the most sense to move from their fielding positions to the mound? Not necessarily those players who would succeed on the mound, therefore marginalizing previous pitching experience, but the players who just make the most sense to try moving around.

In other words, focus on players who excel at almost nothing besides having a strong and accurate arm. Of course, an arm that doubles as a cannon with a scope is 1) awesome and 2) not a harbinger of pitching success. To set the mood, here are two players that fit the mold (Note: Please don’t take these names as serious suggestions):

Yuniesky Betancourt, SS, Kansas City

The one aspect of Betancourt’s game that evokes positive comments from everyone is his arm. The strength of his arm, however, remains his only real defensive skill anymore. His resistance to drawing walks and inability to hold a high average makes him an offensive liability at the plate. Betancourt is no longer a kid – he turns 29 in January – but his skill set makes him someone who could stand to benefit from trying to pick up the mound phase of the game. Whether his body would allow him to or not is up for debate.

Ronny Cedeno, SS, Pittsburgh

Like Betancourt, Cedeno’s defensive props only go so far. He’ll be 28 at the start of camp, and his offensive talent is woeful. Over the four big league seasons he has with 200 or more plate appearances, Cedeno’s on-base percentage has topped .300 once (and that came during his first full season in the bigs). His arm is still worthwhile though.



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Marc
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Marc
5 years 8 months ago

Jeff Francouer.

Josh G
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Josh G
5 years 8 months ago

My first thought as well

yujrfgh
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yujrfgh
5 years 8 months ago

online store———– http://www.igoshops.com

U G G($48)

N F L ($28)

wat
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wat
5 years 8 months ago

I know that this has been expressed many times already, but you guys really need a copy-editor (or at least someone who can teach RJ Anderson how to write a sentence).

James III
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James III
5 years 8 months ago

I give a thumbs-down to the rudeness but an unfortunate thumbs-up to the sentiment. Cool material, nice analysis, good vocabulary, but odd usage knocks it down a piece. I heard you guys are hiring: someone with top flight grammar and diction skills would be a serious asset.

Scout Finch
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Scout Finch
5 years 8 months ago

Benefit of doubt to engineers and statistically minded folks who are unlikely to produce elegant prose.

Above is not an egregious example however. In general, you just have to get past the occasional clanky and awkward sentences.

You also have to get over high-mindedness as a reader.

Nathaniel Dawson
Member
Nathaniel Dawson
5 years 8 months ago

I’m not sure it’s high-mindedness. For me, it’s simply about what I’ve been accustomed to. Growing up decades before the explosion of internet blogs, what people read were professional publications — such as newspapers, magazines, books — which had to conform to certain standards. Having grown up reading publications with higher standards, it is now distracting to read articles that don’t measure up to the previous standards of journalism. They end up being more difficult and less enjoyable to read.

For what it’s worth, I didn’t find much objectionable in this article. Fangraphs does have occasional problems in this area, but that’s true of much of what you read on the internet.

Bigmouth
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5 years 8 months ago

Scout, that’s a bit of a copout. See, e.g., Ken Tremendous, Junior, and Dak.

scott
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scott
5 years 8 months ago

Melky sub-replacement Cabrera

JimNYC
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JimNYC
5 years 8 months ago

Fact: If the Yankees hadn’t traded Melky Cabrera for Javier Vazquez, they would have better this year.

He may not be great, but he’s better than Javier Vazquez.

DT
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DT
5 years 8 months ago

Fact: Melky was worth -1.2 WAR, Javy was -.2 WAR. Melky would have eaten time from Gardner who was 5.4 WAR. The yankees would have been well worse off.

TFINY
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TFINY
5 years 8 months ago

Michael Cuddyer

OmarStrollin
Member
OmarStrollin
5 years 8 months ago

My thoughts exactly. I remember in an interview once, Cuddyer said his pre-draft baseball highlight was throwing a perfect game in high school… apparently he was a pretty good pitcher all through that level. Not that that micro-success matters at all at this juncture, but I just want to see him out of right field. We could use a power arm in the bullpen, and I bet Cuddles could rock a mean heater. Can he use a crow-hop from the mound? :)

hairball
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hairball
5 years 8 months ago

Problem with michael cuddyer is he can actually hit. I don’t see how he belongs in this conversation.

TFINY
Member
TFINY
5 years 8 months ago

Cuddyer can sorta hit. His K rate dropped 5% from his career and his wOBA was still only .329; not that good of a hitter.

BX
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BX
5 years 8 months ago

Already being tried, but Tony Pena Jr.

johng
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johng
5 years 8 months ago

David Ortiz

Table
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Table
5 years 8 months ago

Ortiz is loling on the ground with me after falling over attempting to duplicate Nomo’s windup.

John
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John
5 years 8 months ago

Sounds to me like you and David Ortiz need to get a room.

Sox27
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Sox27
5 years 8 months ago

Mark Kotsay should’ve stuck with pitching

Scout Finch
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Scout Finch
5 years 8 months ago

He was unreal @ CSUF in ’95. Hit a jack in the eighth, close it down in the ninth.

brendan
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brendan
5 years 8 months ago

hey! he had a few good years in the OF, especially w/ oak. not a star, but a solid player in his prime. I wish he’d retire, he’s ruining his rep now.

pepin
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

En mi vida he visto a alguien hablar mas tonteria que Ud……Now in english in my entire life I never saw a man speaking more than **** words than you

pepin
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Look if a man with the 1th place in NL in put out and 4th in all mlb
4 th asist
8 th doble plays
3 th in TC
and batting 16 hrs with 78 ribis could be a pitcher so who could be out of MLB?
I will give you the answer ….
more than 200 american player ( no latin ) must be out of the MLB for the good of the baseball ..Who? look in your data base is very easy to fin them
I think you will be better working in Saturday Night Live dont you?

hazel
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5 years 8 months ago

Since you don’t seem to be a native english speaker, I’m going to go ahead and insult your understanding of baseball instead of your writing ability: Betancourt’s defense and batting eye are so bad that even while he hit a career high in HR and ISO, he was still worth less than a win. Why the hell would you come to a site like fangraphs if you don’t actually understand the data that they publish here? Unless you actually are Yuniesky Betancourt, there is no basis for you to try to defend him here- and if you are him why aren’t you sitting at home wallowing in a pile of undeserved millions?

Jason F
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Jason F
5 years 8 months ago

Wallowing may not be the right word…rejoicing, maybe.

cliff.ly
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cliff.ly
5 years 8 months ago

Nick “Save me the strikeout ball” Swisher

James III
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James III
5 years 8 months ago

Remember when Swish did pitch an inning? I think it was in ’09, but I’m not sure. Seriously, though, with the one exception of the year his BABIP dropped through the floor, he’s been a 3+ win guy for the last 5 years. He looks bad if you have a BA hangup, but there’s a reason he got 635 PA’s for the Yanks last year.

JimNYC
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JimNYC
5 years 8 months ago

Nick Swisher seems to me to be any fan’s dream. He’s an awesome clubhouse guy, fantastic with the media, has contagious enthusiasm that spreads to the fanbase, and is a solidly productive player earning less than eight figures. He’s basically the perfect fan-favorite.

James III
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James III
5 years 8 months ago

Just wish he was still on my A’s! Sigh.

mickeyg13
Member
5 years 8 months ago

A couple years ago the Cardinals had this nice CFer with an absolute cannon for an arm…Rick Achilles or Rick Ankle or something. He hit for a lot of power when he debuted but has bounced around with a few teams as his power has left him. Does anyone know if he has ever pitched at any level before?

Rob
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Rob
5 years 8 months ago

Rick Ankiel was developed originally as a pitcher, injuries and other reasons forced him to the field. He currently plays for the Royals. He’s pretty much a has been, with no shot of being a pitcher again.

dragonflyball
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dragonflyball
5 years 8 months ago

Aside from the fact that you need to wipe your sarcasm glasses clean, you also missed the fact that he was traded to the Braves this season.

delv
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delv
5 years 8 months ago

whoooooshhhh

chulton
Member
chulton
5 years 8 months ago

hahaha is this for real?

chulton
Member
chulton
5 years 8 months ago

And it wasn’t injuries that forced him to the field it was his complete inability to throw a pitch anywhere near the plate

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
5 years 8 months ago

Mark Freackin Grace. j/k

Would have liked to have seen Shawon “Nuke” Dunston throw on the bump.

Is is time for Rick Ankiel to go back to pitching? Seriously. No really. I’m not joking.

GTStD
Member
GTStD
5 years 8 months ago

I’ve rarely seen a better arm than Rafael Furcal. He’s too good right now at short and too fast to take out of the lineup 4 out of 5 days. In a couple of years though, as he slows down and his lack of power catches up to him, it might be interesting to see him give it a shot.

Alireza
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Furcal can hit and run. His arm is sick, but there is no need at all to move him. Tulowitzki is another howitzer SS who has been clocked at something like 94-96 on a throw to 1B.

pepin
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

To the hazel…. yes I am Cuban living in Spain I cant express myself like you but I am sure that I speak nad write English beter than you spanish yes endeed .

.ok I only want to ask you tell and the rest about Derek Jeter What can we do with him and for example player like T. Manzella Houton, J. Wilson Seattle, B Ryan St Louis, D.Worth Detroit, or Craig Counsell Millwaukee do you can tell me what they are doing with gys in MLB?

mbrady16
Member
mbrady16
5 years 8 months ago

I don’t think anybody would say Tommy Manzella, Danny Worth or Craig Counsell are very good baseball players. The first two are quite young and got time at a shallow position for their clubs. Craig is an OLD utility guy. Brendan Ryan and Jeter are clearly better players than Betancourt, even as limited as they are. Jack Wilson is an interesting wild card, he was really good with the pirates, down year last year.

What did you sort by to determine chubby Yuniesky was better than these players?

John
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John
5 years 8 months ago

I wish the Mariners would have Josh Wilson pitch.

pepin
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5 years 8 months ago

To the hazel…. yes I am Cuban living in Spain I cant express myself like you but I am sure that I speak nad write English beter than you spanish yes endeed .

.ok I only want to ask you tell me with Derek Jeter What can we do where to dend him or for example player like T. Manzella Houton, J. Wilson Seattle, B Ryan St Louis, D.Worth Detroit, or Craig Counsell Millwaukee do you can tell me what they are doing with gys in MLB?

camisadelgolf
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camisadelgolf
5 years 8 months ago

Paul Janish is the worst ‘pitcher’ in Reds history, but he can throw an effortless 91 MPH fastball, and with some training and conditioning, I could see him getting up to 94 MPH. Janish has options, so they could always send him to AAA to learn some pitches from Justin Lehr, who is more of an instructor than he is a pitcher at this point in his career (just ask Homer Bailey). Then again, Janish is currently the Reds’ best shortstop–not that that’s saying much–so there’s really no point in even mentioning this.

camisadelgolf
Guest
camisadelgolf
5 years 8 months ago

Also, Juan Francisco has a laster for an arm. If he never learns to work the count, he could try his hand at pitching.

guest
Guest
guest
5 years 8 months ago

Oiga, Pepin. Fijese que no tiene por que escribir en espanol…pues todos los articulos y comentarios estan escritos en ingles. Mejor hacerlo en un idioma que todos pueden entender. A lo mejor le gusta el juego del senor Betancourt ya que es cubano, como usted. Pero todos los rodados que el ha convertido en outs no es lo mismo como PORCENTAJE de jugadas hechas exitosamente. Respecto a las otras estadisticas (carreras impulsadas, jonrones), dependen del contexto. Es decir, si un pelotero esta rodeado de buenos companeros de equipo y acumula muchas apariencias en el plato, seguramente va a remolcar muchos RBI. Los jonrones son una muy pequena parte de lo que el jugador contribuye al equipo; mejor usar los pasaportes, imparables, etc para ver cuan bueno (o malo) ha sido el atleta. (wOBA) Bueno, un saludo de EEUU.

Look if a man with the 1th place in NL in put out and 4th in all mlb
4 th asist
8 th doble plays
3 th in TC
and batting 16 hrs with 78 ribis could be a pitcher so who could be out of MLB?
I will give you the answer ….

mbrady16
Member
mbrady16
5 years 8 months ago

Well said, sir.

pepin
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

oiga menos mal por dios que trabajo pase en el ingles tan pobre que tengo si entiendo en parte lo que usted dice asi como lo de las bases por bolas y la falta de voluntad en el robo pero el comentario asi todo no deja de tener mala intencionalidad

creo que lo que molesta en el fondo es que halla latinos buenos en la posicion ya no solo como catchers posicion que no le gustaba a los americanos historicamente desempeñar en fin es lo que creo

comprendo que la disciplina al plato en cuba apenas se enseña a lli es al salvajismo y ese defecto lo arrastran a las mayores pero decir que yunieski se valla a pitchear oiga no es facil yuni quedo entre los 10 primeros torpederos en todas las mayores pese al que pese no solo en la americana creo que es una falta de respeto a todo un esfuerzo de la temporada asi lo creo en parte que encima es cubano como yo imagine entonces pero no solo por eso

Ah y si llega a traducir esto que me perdone por lo que dije que no debi decir y por mi ingles tan malo ingles gracias

mbrady16
Member
mbrady16
5 years 8 months ago

Betancourt isn’t even a top 15 HITTER at SS in the majors. Take into account his defense and it’s even worse. I know you share a heritage with him, but please. He’s not good (compared with other starting major league SS).

Also you seemed to have slipped in some remark about how Yuni gets hate because he plays a position that americans are traditionally not good at? If Correct me if I’m wrong in my translation, my spanish is rusty. But in this case you might want to remember that some of the best SS’s of all time are whites- Cal, Brooks Robinson, Jeter, A-Rod, (I’m sure I’m forgetting someone.) Right now, Tulo is probably the best SS in the game. So you’re off base.

Tyler Thigpen
Guest
Tyler Thigpen
5 years 8 months ago

well.. to be fair isn’t a-rod hispanic. and jeter isn’t “white”

jason
Guest
jason
5 years 8 months ago

Brooks Robinson = 3B

Alireza
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Jeter is half black, A-Rod is Cuban and Brooks was a 3B.

Tulo is awesome though.

Thomas
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Thomas
5 years 8 months ago

Annnnd, you still don’t get it. Yuni isnt even in the top 32 short stops in the league. He is lazy (read: overweight), does not respond well to criticism and wasted a good amount of potential with a terrible approach.

This is not a slight on latin born players. Jeff Francouer has had a similar career (actually, its probably worse) and he is white. This is probably a bad place to post if you do not understand advanced baseball statistics and resort to calls of racism.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 8 months ago

He is lazy (read: overweight),

That mistake, equating overweight with being lazy, is why there were ~470 players drafted ahead of Albert Pujols.

For the Love of Miguel Cabrera, can we please get past the idea that overweight=lazy?

Seriously, there are plenty of athletes that are lazy pricks, who just happen to not eat much, not eat fatty foods, or just happen to have a good metabolism and/or outstanding genetics.

The truth is you have no idea whether Yuni works hard or not.

Tyler Thigpen
Guest
Tyler Thigpen
5 years 8 months ago

and one of those actual fatass lazy players is named pablo sandoval

John
Guest
John
5 years 8 months ago

Except Yuni has actually proven to be lazy. He never went the “voluntary” extra fielding and batting practice in his last days in Seattle that every other player went to. That was a lot of the reason for him wearing out his welcome in Seattle, in addition to just being bad. One of the Mariners beat writers wrote about it at the time of the trade but I can’t find it now.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan
5 years 8 months ago

Didn’t Brooks Kieschnick do this somewhat recently, outfielder to pitcher?

sopcod
Member
sopcod
5 years 8 months ago

Yes, Brooks Kieschnick was a first round pick by the Cubs who, after bouncing around for a few years, found some success by filling two roles (relief pitcher and pinch hitter / emergency fielder) with one roster spot. Unfortunately he just wasn’t good enough at any of those roles to really stick. Interesting idea though.

Bryz
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

I’m actually a bit surprised why Kieschnick was out of a job so fast. He was a career .248/.315/.444 which led to a roughly league-average wOBA but with above-average power, he hit .270/.324/.365 in his final year as a major leaguer (not too bad, certainly worse hitters have been given jobs), and he wasn’t too bad as a pitcher either. Perhaps it was just tough figuring out how to leverage the pinch-hitting and relief pitching in the most useful way possible.

pepin
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Jeter?…. never had a good range factor man he only catch easy balls and the play in the hole ok but no more

his UZR is a shame the yanks suffer a big number of hits between SS and 3b do you know that ..his Gold Glove was a shame for the baseball.

Yuni catch more balls than 100 short stops in MLB his problems are others stole bases and patience in the home plate but the rest ? is fisrt 10 places in many departaments look in to the MLB stats.

mbrady16
Member
mbrady16
5 years 8 months ago

Even despite Jeter’s shortcomings, he’s still better than Yuni. That says it all. Since you understand UZR and range factor, why do you continue to support Yuniesky as a “top 10” shortstop? You can’t ignore fielding metrics for him and then bash Jeter using them, its simply poor form.

pepin
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

I am actually ….I live in Spain I am Cuban and I have to know English because I can hardly speak the language I hope you understood sorry about that

Mike
Guest
Mike
5 years 8 months ago

A-Rod is white?

mbrady16
Member
mbrady16
5 years 8 months ago

He looks kinda white… has a Michael Jackson thing goin’ on. I admit I didn’t think about that one.

lois
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

This article is a lack of respect to Yuniesky so I say

Jack
Guest
Jack
5 years 8 months ago

Buster Posey: want a way to give his legs a break from squatting? let him Pitch like he did in college. We have seen him gun out would be base-steallers with that impressive arm, it DOES translate to the mound. Giants could make him an emergency starter/arm for the bullpen in extra inning games… he already preps for the upcoming lineup every game anyways so he knows the scouting reports.

Paul Thomas
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Paul Thomas
5 years 8 months ago

Too much injury risk. A guy who’s a great hitter should never be sent to the mound.

Ethan
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Ethan
5 years 8 months ago

Miguel Tejada…still has a cannon arm…his days at the plate are just about over in my opinion

v-Skippy
Guest
v-Skippy
5 years 8 months ago

…and I’m pretty sure he just entered his age 24 season (or at least his birth certificate says so).

Table
Guest
Table
5 years 8 months ago

James Loney…former pitcher, just waiting for that extra extra inning game…

Ichiro……just waiting until he is 45……or bored of batting .300 with 200 hits. He could go for 3.00 era and 200 Ks every year instead. :0

Elliott
Guest
Elliott
5 years 8 months ago

Ichiro for sure!
He has wanted to forever in blowouts but the M’s won’t ever let him as it is a injury risk.
Can’t blame them but I can imagine the speed he would put on that pitch (with no movement and the farthest HR hit ever off of him).

v-Skippy
Guest
v-Skippy
5 years 8 months ago

Here’s a clip of Ichiro pitching in the NPB All-Star game:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvp-kuAX5Bg

Alireza
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Loney could probably convert within a year. He was so good in high school that he actually thought the Dodgers drafted him to pitch until they called him and told him that he would be a position player. His arm is so good that they toyed with him in RF in order to get him to the majors faster, back when he was considered an elite hitting prospect.

BTW, thanks for the YouTube of Ichiro pitching. His mechanics even look awesome.

Table
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Furcal

Mr Punch
Guest
Mr Punch
5 years 8 months ago

Do we have a comp for Ron Mahay’s age 24 season?

Carts13
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Carts13
5 years 8 months ago

Vlad Guerrero! You gotta admit that would be fun to watch

David G
Guest
David G
5 years 8 months ago

Peyton Manning

Chris
Guest
Chris
5 years 8 months ago

Helton was a quarterback at Tennessee and pitched in HS … Maybe he could have pitched a solid inning or 2 at some level …

EdwardM
Member
EdwardM
5 years 8 months ago

He only played in 8 games in ’10, but I remember Chris Woodward having a strong arm. No one would miss his bat too terribly so I think he might be what your looking for.

BTW, former Orioles pitching prospect Adam Loewen is attempting an Ankiel manouver. At AA this year he went .246/.351/.412 in 537 PA’s. Lots & lots of SO’s.

Andrew
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Andrew
5 years 8 months ago

Jordan Schafer. Rick Ankiel.

Bob
Guest
Bob
5 years 8 months ago

Jose Guillen? He had a gun for an arm prior to his surgeries.

Ian
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Ian
5 years 8 months ago

Brandon Inge. The guy can do anything.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3288075

And another quote:
“Tigers coach Andy Van Slyke told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark that Inge is the only player in the majors with the talent to play all nine positions at a high level.”

Josh G
Guest
Josh G
5 years 8 months ago

Nate Schierholtz and Juan Uribe both have strong arms. Pablo Sandoval too, and he can apparently throw with both arms

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan
5 years 8 months ago

I’m from Kansas…if anyone hasn’t seen Yuni in person…you really have to. He is the PERFECT Royals player. And I vote Raul Mondesi comes back to pitch. That was one hell of an arm.

Paul Thomas
Guest
Paul Thomas
5 years 8 months ago

I don’t know if he’s still in baseball, but Donnie Murphy had an incredible arm as a shortstop and couldn’t hit a lick. Seems like a prime conversion candidate.

Justin
Guest
Justin
5 years 8 months ago

Not even trying to nitpick, but is this article just about position players that suck that could POSSIBLY throw in the 90s?

ElJimador
Guest
ElJimador
5 years 8 months ago

Is Lance Niekro still in the minors working on his knuckleball?

Milnertime
Guest
Milnertime
5 years 8 months ago

Yuniesky Betancourt would probably suck at pitching, too, just to round out how unjustified his salary is.

Poor Royals.

Fattinton_Bear
Member
Fattinton_Bear
5 years 8 months ago

I have a friend who grew up playing against Nick Markakis and he swears that Nick is the best pitcher on the Orioles.

cs3
Member
cs3
5 years 8 months ago

how about the opposite approach:
Dontrell Willis
the guy has been a mediocre pitcher four 4+years now and is very unlikely to regain his form.
But he could always mash, and is athletic enough to be at least an average outfielder

Kazinski
Guest
Kazinski
5 years 8 months ago

Rob Johnson,
A catcher who can’t catch, and can’t hit, but he has a decent arm with a career .305 throwout rate.

lois
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Bryan Bullington 30-year-old right-hander

Eight years after being taken first overall by the Pirates, Bullington has appeared in just 26 major league games (half of them for the Royals this season) while posting a 1-9 record and 5.62 ERA. His only career victory came Aug. 15,

So my friend would you tell me what can we do with this ” player” maybe he can move to the short stop jajajajajajajaja you have a lot of bluff in your baseball too I prefer to have Yuni only with a leg than players like this.

pepin
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

jjajajajajaja thas good lois people that day in the draft was drunk? jajajajaja

lois
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

No pepin…I think they are very tired of seeing so many bad people in this baseball jajajajajajaja

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